Progressive Theologians of Interest

Influential Theologians of Today


Robin R Meyers (124x150)

Rev. Dr. Robin R. Meyers


Rev. Dr. Robin R. Meyers is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, a tenured professor in the philosophy department at Oklahoma City University, an author, a syndicated columnist, and an award-winning commentator for National Public Radio. He has been the Senior Minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC church of Oklahoma City since 1985, the fastest growing UCC church in the Kansas Oklahoma conference


Dr Charles Kimball (120x150)

Dr. Charles Kimball


Dr. Charles Kimball is Presidential Professor and Director of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. Between 1996 and 2008, he served as Chair of the Department of Religion and the Divinity School at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. During the 2006 fall term, Dr. Kimball was the Rita and William Bell Visiting Professor at the University of Tulsa. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and holds the M.Div. degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. An ordained Baptist minister, he received his Th.D. from Harvard University in comparative religion with specialization in Islamic studies.


Bishop John Shelby Spong (117x150)

Bishop John Shelby Spong


John Shelby Spong, whose books have sold more than a million copies, was bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001. His admirers acclaim him as a teaching bishop who makes contemporary theology accessible to the ordinary layperson — he’s considered the champion of an inclusive faith by many, both inside and outside the Christian church. In one of his recent books, The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Discover the God of Love (San Francisco: Harper One, 2005), this visionary thinker seeks to introduce readers to a proper way to engage the holy book of the Judeo-Christian tradition.


Dr. Welton Gaddy (123x150)

Dr. Welton Gaddy

Author of more than 20 books, including First Freedom First: A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy leads the national non-partisan grassroots and educational organization Interfaith Alliance and serves as Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana.

In addition to being a prolific writer, Dr. Gaddy hosts the weekly State of Belief radio program, where he explores the role of religion in the life of the nation by illustrating the vast diversity of beliefs in America, while exposing and critiquing both the political manipulation of religion for partisan purposes and the religious manipulation of government for sectarian purposes.


“The Progressive Sermon I Always Wanted to Preach…”


Joe Meinhart (125x150)

Rev. Joe Meinhart


Joe Meinhart received his Ph.D. in Educational Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 2009. His areas of interest include social justice, social violence, gender studies, masculinity and identity, and the relationship between religion, culture and violence.


Dr. Lavonn Brown (128x150)

Dr. Lavonn Brown,
Ret. Pastor,
First Baptist Church of Norman

Six months after graduating from Cyril High School in Cyril, Oklahoma, Lavonn was Ordained to the Gospel Ministry by the First Baptist Church, Cyril, Oklahoma.   Preparing himself for his calling, Dr. Brown earned a Bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Baptist University where his academic achievements were recognized by his inclusion in Who’s Who of American Colleges and Universities, 1954-55.   He went on to earn a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Theology Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  His major field in doctoral studies was Christian Ministries and his dissertation was entitled:  A History of Representative Southern Baptist Preaching during the First World War through the Depression (1914-1929).


John Brunna (Buddhist Monk) (125x150)

John Bruna
(Jangchub Chophel)
Buddhist Monk


In addition to other professional pursuits, John had also been a student of Buddhism for many years. A teaching by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama inspired him to become an ordained Buddhist monk. In August 2005, John traveled to Gaden Shartse Monastery in India, where the eminent Lati Rinpoche ordained him with the name of Jangchub Chophel. Returning from India, he continued his monastic studies at Thubten Dhargye Ling, under the guidance of the venerated teacher, Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen. John then returned to the classroom, teaching another 3 years while in monastic robes.


Barbara S. Boyd, D.Min.

Barbara S. Boyd, D.Min.

Dr. Barbara S. Boyd wears two hats in the Religious Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma. She is the Director of Outreach for Religious Studies as well as faculty in the Program. Her area of specialization and teaching is Christianity and Biblical Studies. Her teaching includes but is not limited to courses in Historical Jesus, Christian Scriptures, American Christianity, and others. Dr. Boyd received her graduate degrees from the consortium of seminaries linked to the University of Chicago Divinity School, with her degrees granted specifically from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. As an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister, she has served two churches, one in Oklahoma and one in Aurora, Colorado. She has published in the Reformed Journal. Her Outreach tasks include providing the Religious Studies Program with speaker events, interfaith dialogue forums, conferences with global impact, fund raising and travel abroad opportunities for Religious Studies students and faculty. She recently received the Educator’s Award granted by the Institute of Interfaith Dialogue for her with a Muslim community committed to world peace through ethical education.


Tom W. Boyd, Ph.D.

Tom W. Boyd, Ph.D.

Tom W. Boyd is the David Ross Boyd Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma. After teaching philosophy of religion and ethics there for 28 years, he retired from fulltime teaching in 1997. Tom served as Kingfisher Chair of the Philosophy of Religion & Ethics before retiring. He also retired from the ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church USA in the summer of 1998. Tom was talked out of retirement and enlisted for service in the new Religious Studies Program in 2002 by OU President David Boren (reports say he can be very persuasive!) . Tom teaches at the University of Oklahoma as part of the Retired Professor program and serves as a consultant to the Program. He teaches one large or two smaller courses per semester. Tom holds four earned degrees, including a Ph.D. in Religion from Vanderbilt University in 1973. His academic specialization is in philosophy of religion, and ethics. His current concentration is on the relation among world religions and the relation between religion and culture. He seeks through his studies and teaching to understand and appreciate religion in its contemporary setting and in light of an emerging planetary culture. Tom is actively involved in a current discussion of a Global Ethic.


Mike Bumgarner, M. Div.

Mike Bumgarner, M. Div.

Mike Bumgarner, M. Div., BCC: Staff Chaplain at Norman Regional Health System since July 2004; On-call Chaplain at Norman Regional since 1986.
BA Religion, Wayland Baptist University, Plainview, Texas; M. Div. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Ordained 1981 First Baptist, Columbia, SC; Clinical Pastoral Education: Baptist Medical Center, Columbia, South Carolina, June 1980 to August 1982; Endorsed as a healthcare chaplain by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; Board Certified Chaplain, Association of Professional Chaplains.


 Dr. Phil Fenn on Motivated Belief

Dr. Phil Fenn - Thumb (126x150)

Dr. Phil Fenn


Dr. Phil Fenn, retired pastor emeritus at McFarland United Methodist Church in Norman, OK, speaks about “Motivated Belief” for the United Church of Norman (UCC) on May 23, 2013. Dr. Fenn’s speech is the conclusion of a series of speeches sponsored by United Church on the topic, “The Progressive Sermon I Always Wanted to Preach.”



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